Touring the American Southwest

From late April to early May, 2022, just before flying back to France, we spent a few days touring the American Southwest. We rented a car in Phoenix on April 28 and returned it to the same location on May 5; between those two dates, we explored parts of Arizona and New Mexico. Half the trip is covered on this page; I intend to publish the rest next month, so stay tuned.

Saguaro National Park

We spent the night in Tucson, and on April 29, after picking up Eric and Steph at the airport, we visited the Tucson Mountain District portion of the Saguaro National Park that preserves the landscape, fauna, and flora of the Sonoran Desert. Walking on those trails, surrounded by literally thousands of Saguaros, I felt I should be on horseback and part of a movie about the Wild West.


Saguaro National Park presents a typical Western landscape

Saguaro National Park presents a typical Western landscape


At the entrance, a sign warns visitors to look out for rattlesnakes The trails are easy

At the entrance, a sign warns visitors to look out for rattlesnakes

The trails are easy


Desert landscape Heading to the Valley View Overlook

Desert landscape

Heading to the Valley View Overlook


There are a few steps Cactus flower A Saguaro cactus closeup...

There are a few steps

Cactus flower

A Saguaro cactus closeup...


...and another one. Saguaros can grow over 40 feet (12 meters) tall Near Valley View Overlook

...and another one.

Saguaros can grow over 40 feet (12 meters) tall

Near Valley View Overlook


The vista from Valley View Overlook There aree other species of cacti, too

The vista from Valley View Overlook

There aree other species of cacti, too


The saguaro blossom is the state wildflower of Arizona A last look at this typical landscape

The saguaro blossom is the state wildflower of Arizona

A last look at this typical landscape

In the early evening, we set out for Las Cruces in New Mexico, some 274 miles (438 kilometers) from Tucson. We arrived very late because while Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time, New Mexico does, so we had to set our watches an hour ahead when we got there.


White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park looks surreal: the gypsum crystals that make up the dunes give them the appearance of snowy ski slopes, but we really are in a desert. People can and do climb the dunes, and some use makeshift (or real) sleds to slide down. Just being there was eerily disconcerting. I recall having had similar feelings the first time I saw a black sand beach in Hawaii back in 1980: you look at the scene and something doesn't feel quite right. Be that as it may, the landscapes are as beautiful as they are unusual.


The white sand dunes look very much like snowy slopes

The white sand dunes look very much like snowy slopes


The white sand requires a similar exposure adjustment... ...as taking pictures in the snow (here, overexpose by 1 stop).

The white sand requires a similar exposure adjustment...

...as taking pictures in the snow (here, overexpose by 1 stop).


Climbing one of the dunes Some vegetation manages to push through the sand

Climbing one of the dunes

Some vegetation manages to push through the sand


Long stalks prevent being covered by the dunes A walkway facilitates exploring the dunes

Long stalks prevent being covered by the dunes

A walkway facilitates exploring the dunes


In large numbers, low plants like these... ...create eerie and otherworldly landscapes.

In large numbers, low plants like these...

...create eerie and otherworldly landscapes.


We only saw very few flowers... ...but quite a bit of dead wood.

We only saw very few flowers...

...but quite a bit of dead wood.


All in all, it makes for a rather desolate landscape A quick stop in Encino on the way to Santa Fe

All in all, it makes for a rather desolate landscape

A quick stop in Encino on the way to Santa Fe

Santa Fe

We arrived in Santa Fe just in time to take a quick photo of a beautiful sunset. We really enjoyed this town with its many shops (some more authentic than others), interesting architecture, and extensive history. For example, Santa Fe is home to the oldest church structure in the United States, built round 1610, ten years before the arrival of the Mayflower in the New World. Much more recently, 109 East Palace was the Santa Fe address all scientists working on the Manhattan Project were brought to; their final destination, Los Alamos, was such a tightly guarded secret that they could not be told about it. Today, a plaque reminds visitors of the significance of the address.


Shops along West Plaza Avenue, bordering Santa Fe Plaza

Shops along West Plaza Avenue, bordering Santa Fe Plaza


The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi Another view of the Cathedral Basilica

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Another view of the Cathedral Basilica


The Pioneer Monument in Cathedral Park The bandstand on Santa Fer Plaza

The Pioneer Monument in Cathedral Park

The bandstand on Santa Fer Plaza


At the northeast corner of Santa Fe Plaza Building on Old Santa Fe Trail

At the northeast corner of Santa Fe Plaza

Building on Old Santa Fe Trail


The Capricho boutique sells women's clothing and accessories Further south on Old Santa Fe Trail

The Capricho boutique sells women's clothing and accessories

Further south on Old Santa Fe Trail


The San Miguel chapel Shops along East Plaza Avenue Walkway around an interior courtyard

The San Miguel chapel

Shops along East Plaza Avenue

Walkway around an interior courtyard


Pasqual's Cafe and Gallery Reflections in a shop window The Loretto Chapel

Pasqual's Cafe and Gallery

Reflections in a shop window

The Loretto Chapel


Relaxing in Cathedral Park The Santa Fe Public Library Strolling along West San Francisco Street

Relaxing in Cathedral Park

The Santa Fe Public Library

Strolling along West San Francisco Street


The Lensic Performing Arts Center The Original Trading Post⸺since 1603

The Lensic Performing Arts Center

The Original Trading Post⸺since 1603


Restaurant on Washington Avenue Street musicians busking by Santa Fe Plaza

Restaurant on Washington Avenue

Street musicians busking by Santa Fe Plaza


to be continued...
The photos on this page were taken from April 29 through May 1, 2022.




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